Experience of parents with their children and teachers with their students demonstrate how kids change their behaviours and knowledge from infancy to adolescence. Until now, little was known of the causes that could lead to these changes.
Today, an article published in Science in collaboration with the group of Manel Esteller, Director of Epigenetics and Cancer Biology Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), ICREA researcher and Professor of Genetics at the University of Barcelona, gives us an important clue to understanding this process.
Researchers have discovered that people's frontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for the conduct and the acquisition of new information) experiences a significant change from birth to the end of adolescence. The epigenome is transformed.
The study analyzes the epigenome of newborns, teenagers aged 16, and adults aged 25 and 50 in the United States and in Catalonia (Spain).Epigenome
"The results of the study show that DNA methylation has a key role in shaping the communication spaces between neurons (synapses)", explains Esteller. "The brain is divided into white matter (glial) and gray matter (neurons) with several cell types with different functions. DNA methylation patterns distinguish genes with cell-type specific activity. Even in the gray matter, there are cell subtypes such as pyramidal neurons and GABA neurotransmitter producers that have specific subpatterns of DNA methylation."
"In addition, DNA methylation of neurons is different from the rest of the cells in our body. If normal is called 5-mCG, this, in the bran, is called 5-MCH: this is like putting an open or closed accent to a word, in this case a gene to change its meaning" explains Esteller.
This finding could have a profound importance in the knowledge of brain's biology because besides explaining the plasticity of this organ when learning and living experiences, it could be decisive to understand the causes of altered behaviours and psychiatric diseases. Now, we must investigate whether minor alterations in the program of DNA methylation during early postnatal development could be associated to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism or schizophrenia.
The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a research center created in 2004 and it is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital, the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, and the University of Barcelona. IDIBELL is located at Biopol'H at L'Hospitalet de Llobregat and is member of the Health Universtitat de Barcelona Campus.Article reference
Arantxa Mena | EurekAlert!
Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology
Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.02.2018 | Life Sciences